Michelangelo at work, and ‘culture’ recommendations
Well, I painted a new sign today. It looks rough, but it’s legible. A master painter I am not! But I have to say, the process is so much quicker than using markers. I don’t think I can go back. The cardboard piece I found is huge. It’s kind of old and flimsy though, so hopefully the wind won’t rip it in half.
I wanted to launch a new semi-regular feature here, which I’m calling ‘Culture’ Recommendations. Get it? Like cell culture. Anyway, this is a selection of what I’ve been watching, playing and reading lately.
TV: Floor Is Lava. This was a pandemic guilty pleasure of mine and it just dropped a new season. I think the room designs were a little less creative this go around, but still — what a blast! It’s straightforward, family-friendly fun. I need more episodes.
TV: His Dark Materials. Ever since writing an essay for Slaughter-Free America about the book series, I’ve been diving deeper into Philip Pullman’s world(s). I’ve now read all the novellas and the first two books in the new trilogy. I watched the 2007 movie, which wasn’t actually quite as bad as I’d heard. But this new HBO adaptation is really good.
My only real criticism is they don’t seem to have the budget to do all the necessary CGI. In the books, the souls of humans manifest outwardly as talking animals, called daemons. The trouble is that in this show, tons of the characters don’t seem to have these daemons. I’ve heard this gets better in season two.
Game: Tony Hawk Pro-Skater 1+2. So this is a remastered version of the titles which, if you’re about my age, you probably played way back when. The soundtrack for the first game, in particular, is burned into my brain. The new graphics look great. I love zoning out and skating around.
Book: The Compassionate Universe by Eknath Easwaran. In some ways, this title, which first came out in 1989(?) is fairly dated. A lot of the solutions to the environmental crisis Easwaran puts forward are very of that time, when the left was in retreat and collective action was almost impossible to imagine. He’s really focusing on individual consumer habits, as opposed to say, passing legislation.
I do enjoy his concept of a ‘compassionate universe.’ I’ll have to read it again to fully get my arms around the idea, but some of things he’s talking about, like how we overly focus on competition in nature and overlook cooperation reminds me of Peter Kropotkin’s book, Mutual Aid. I’m not sure how scientifically accurate it all is, but it’s interesting.
Mostly, though, I read Easwaran for spiritual guidance. Something I keep trying to remind myself is that anger isn’t an emotionally-sustainable fuel for activism. Anger is incredibly powerful, but in my case at least, it burns hot and fast. Previously, I’ve relied on this fuel, but I quickly burn out and turn inward. Easwaran helps me with that.